View From Lodi, CA: “Mirrors of Privilege”—Whites Are Guilty, Case Closed!

Last week,

I wrote
that State Superintendent of Public

Jack O`Connell
angered Lodi Unified School District
teachers with his unsubstantiated charge that their

inherent racism
is a leading cause in the

scholastic achievement gap

white students

their black and Latino peers

Teachers, according to O`Connell, are

less responsive
to the needs of minority students
than they are to those of whites.

I received dozens of unsolicited e-mails from
teachers—one from

—objecting to

O`Connell`s theory
. Some suggested that O`Connell`s
perspective is, in and of itself, racist.

Many instructors reminded me that they have taught
dozens of years in low-income,

Title One schools
giving equal effort to all their
regardless of their skin color.

O`Connell`s allegations came shortly after a viewing
by many school district and other

California teachers
of a video that strongly infers
that teachers` racism is destroying not only our schools
but also our nation.


Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible

the DVD promotes itself as challenging “notions of


white supremacy
in the U.S.”

Summarizing the film, to be white is—by definition—to


In the unlikely case that the so-called documentary`s
title doesn`t make

its agenda clear enough for you,
the video is
divided into sub-chapters such as "1,000 Little Cuts
and “The Sickness Within”

Among the first words spoken by the narrator are
these: “To be white

mandates denial of racism

So that`s it—whites
are guilty
; case closed!

Mirrors of Privilege” follows the

well-established pattern

these accusatory films
. To give the air of
credibility and fairness, dozens of white subjects are

, each recalling an isolated incident
from their distant past that is supposed to serve as the
basis for intelligent discussion about social issues in
America today.

If the subjects don`t have

personal stories
to share, they retell events from

a century and a half ago
claiming, many of them
through tears, to be filled with guilt and shame.

Most historical recollections involve the

Civil War

Chinese railroad laborers
from the

mid-19th Century

The video does heavy-handed preaching. One chapter
discusses the “pathology of white people.”

And in another segment, an interviewee said that when
a white person smiles at a black, that innocent and
friendly gesture indicates an attempt to cover up

white guilt.

After watching the fifty-minute video, I came away
numb from the incessant pounding—”white folks,”
as we were occasionally referred to, are clueless.
Diversity, on the other hand, is wonderful.

Some might argue that the “Mirrors of Privilege

Shakti Butler
and the

World Trust Educational Services
are working for a
better America.

But a look at its website shows that those associated
with the project—most importantly, those who

funded it
—have a left-leaning agenda that encourages

And it is equally important to note that promoting

is a huge, moneymaking business.
Toyota Motors, to
name just one example, has committed $8 billion over the
next decade for diversity training. [Toyota
Earmarks $8 billion for Diversification Efforts,

By David Barboza, New York Times, August 1, 2001]

All those people hosting seminars and publishing
books, pamphlets, videos and offering mentoring sessions
are beating a path to their banks to deposit the

huge fees
that they collect in the name of

When a public institution pays those fees, that`s
your tax money going into someone else`s pocket.

Despite all the hoopla about diversity, little
tangible evidence exists that it`s productive.

In his recent study  The
Effects of Diversity on Business Performance
, [PDF]
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of
Management Professor Thomas A. Kochan found that
repeated diversity-training sessions do nothing to
improve performance or to create a more harmonious work
force. (Also check out

Diversity`s Business Case Doesn`t Add Up

Mandatory diversity training
sessions, according
to Professor Kochan, may even create a bias where none
existed before.

Diversity is controversial, especially when it is
presented as the Holy Grail, and should be a subject for
intelligent debate. But opposing views are often
suppressed and rarely encouraged. One LUSD teacher told
me that at his middle school, the principal told his
staff to watch to video without comment.

What my teaching colleagues most objected to is that
Mirrors of Privilege” wasted 55 minutes out of
their busy day.

That valuable time, they said, could have been used
toward educating your child.

Joe Guzzardi [email
him], an instructor in English
at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly
column since 1988. It currently appears in the

Lodi News-Sentinel